What Do Crestron, NetApp, and Coca Cola Company Have in Common?

August 18, 2009

In the last post, I talked about the benefits of having proper tools and processes for customer service. In this post, I want to highlight a few of our customers who have done wonders with SAP CRM. These customers clearly illustrate that when the tools and processes are aligned, everyone stands to benefit.

First in this list is Crestron. Crestron is the world’s leading manufacturer of advanced control and automation systems based in Rockleigh, New Jersey. Recently, Crestron upgraded their old system to SAP CRM 2007 in order to support their critical depot repair process. Depot repair is important to Crestron as it repairs all their products in-house. When a customer encounters a problem with a Crestron product, all he has to do is contact Crestron. Using SAP CRM, an RMA is issued to the customer who then ships the defective product to Crestron. Once the product is received, it is assigned to a repair technician. With SAP CRM, the technician has complete information of the repair order at his disposal, facilitating a quick completion of the job. Upon completion, the technician also uses SAP CRM to document the work, parts consumed, and time spent. The product is then shipped back to the customer, again using SAP CRM to track the complete process. All information collected during the process is used in subsequent communication with the customer as well as analysis of product quality and service operations. Delivering superior service is a key differentiator for Crestron. With SAP CRM, they are living up to the promise of the Crestron brand. Check out this short video on our Youtube channel.

NetApp is another great story to share. NetApp is an innovative storage solutions vendor based in Sunnyvale, California. When NetApp’s system was no longer meeting their growing business needs, they decided to implement SAP CRM. Unlike many other customers who chose SAP CRM for the native integration with SAP ERP, NetApp is using SAP CRM as a stand-alone solution and is integrating it to non-SAP applications (Oracle ERP being one of them.) SAP CRM is the core application used by NetApp Global Services (NGS) to support all its customers, from addressing common technical questions to complex cases requiring a field service engineer onsite. When a NetApp customer calls, the caller is identified by SAP CRM and automatically routed to an agent at the appropriate contact center. The support agent picks up the call and then opens a new case or brings up an existing case, if one has been opened previously by the customer over the web or through another agent. The case is then managed to its completion using SAP CRM, from tracking status, ordering spare parts, and creating and executing an onsite service visit. SAP CRM is also the back-end master for NetApp’s web self-service application called “NetApp on the Web” or “NOW”. Furthermore, SAP CRM is integrated to the “auto-support” capability in some of NetApp’s more advanced products that can automatically detect failure, capture and send system log and configuration information back to NetApp. A new case can also be opened automatically if the conditions warrant one. Currently, the deployment of SAP CRM at NetApp is supporting over 23,000 users consisting of both internal and external users, which include customers and partners. Providing great customer support is very important to NetApp and SAP CRM is a playing key role in enabling NetApp to meet this objective. Check out this short video of Ed Swetavage, Director of NGS, talking about the NetApp’s deployment of SAP CRM.

And my third customer feature today is Coca Cola Company. Coca Cola is in the process of rolling out SAP CRM to all its bottling companies, supporting both inbound service request calls from retailers and consumers as well as outbound marketing calls. With comprehensive capabilities enabled, the solution allows its contact center agents to be universal agents, able to perform many tasks, from creating a new product order to scheduling a removal of a retired refrigerator when a customer calls. The solution will be used by call centers with various sizes, ranging from 1000 to 10 agents. With SAP CRM, Coca Cola is transforming these call centers into strategic assets that drive brand loyalty and profitability. If you have time, watch the webcast presented by the project team at Coca Cola Company on sap.com.

As you can see, these three customers are using SAP CRM somewhat differently to support their customer service business processes. Crestron is using it to manage its return and depot repair processes. NetApp is leveraging SAP CRM to power its customer support globally, managing all technical support cases, simple or complex. And Coca Cola is leverage SAP CRM for its call centers, enabling its universal agents to conduct both sales order and service processes. However, the common theme across all these customers is that SAP CRM is the enabler, the platform that allows them to deliver superior service to their customers and, in the process, retain their customers and thrive.

– Hansen Lieu, Director of Solution Marketing, SAP | hansen.lieu@sap.com


“If All You Have Is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail”

July 17, 2009

As I watched my 3 year old daughter hammering away at anything that she could find with a flat head, I was reminded of a well-known saying from Abraham Maslow, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.  This behavior is not only innate to humans, but organizations as well. 

Is your customer service organization trapped in the “law of the instrument”?  Does every customer support interaction look the same to you because all you have is a system for logging customer calls?  If it is, I would suggest that you consider some options. 

Being able to deliver superior customer service begins with being able to recognize that not all customer interactions are the same, or need to be the same.  If you are shadowing a customer service representative just for a few hours, you will see just how diverse these interactions can be.  On one call, she is answering a basic “how to” question from a new customer.  On the next call, she is being requested for information on how to return a defective product for replacement.  And on the very next call, she could be talking to prospective customer who is shopping for a new product, who has looked on the company’s web site and has a question regarding a promotion.  This ‘typical’ service representative needs to use slightly different processes and tools to support her in each of these different interactions.  If all she has is a system for recording customer interactions, then she will not be able to do much to help her customers and her company is not likely to be bothered again by many of these customers.

Dennis Snow, a founder of the famed Disney Institute, a well-known division of the Walt Disney Company that consults on customer service, recently posted a great blog on customer service excellence called the “DNA of Service Excellence”.  According to Dennis, organizations who deliver exceptional customer services have four common traits that they constantly hone on:

  1. The “Lens of the Customers” mindset
  2. Understand that “Everything Speaks” in  your organization
  3. Create a “Wow experience” for your customers
  4. Having the tools and processes to “Set Employees Up for Success”

Leaving out any of these elements will greatly compromise the quality of your customer service. 

As implied in Dennis’ 4th trait, don’t set up your customer service employees for failure.  Provide them with a tool such as SAP CRM that enables them to deliver exceptional customer services.  I invite you to check it out in this short demo video on YouTube.

Having the right tools for servicing your customers can make your customer service team a positive differentiator for your company instead of becoming the target of many tweets on Twitter or a featured story on CBS 60 Minutes!

– Hansen Lieu, Director CRM Solution Marketing, SAP | hansen.lieu@sap.com

How Is Your Customer Service Process?

May 20, 2009

Like many average homeowners, I am not what you would call “handy”. To compensate for this shortcoming, I convinced my wife that we should invest in a home-warranty service contract. The selling point for a home-warranty service contract is that if “anything” in the home breaks, you just call an 800 number and they will take care of the rest. Sounds good? It did to us. So, we signed up and sent in a check.

About a month ago, one of the burners on our stove stopped working. So, we made the call to the 800 number and asked for help. The call was not bad; I was only on hold for about 10 minutes before a live agent picked up my call. After I provided all the basic information she asked–my policy number, my address, my phone number, and my description of the problem– she told me that a service agent from a local repair shop would call me back within 48 hours. 48 hours?? Bear in mind that I called on a Wednesday, not during some off hours on a Saturday evening.

On late Friday morning, I received a call from a technician about my stove. He asked me to describe the problem again but now he also asked for the make and model. Then, he scheduled to come the next day from 2-4 pm. The technician arrived at 3:45 pm the next day (technically, still within the time window that he promised). He proceeded to take apart my stove and diagnosed the problem. After 45 minutes, he told us that he has the incorrect part. In fact, he is not sure when and where he can find the correct part. He said he hopes to call us within 2 weeks to let us know if and when he can return. “What? We have to wait for 2 weeks and then maybe find out if it can be fixed?” Talk about family crisis!

Sounds like I am talking about something you haven’t encountered before? Unlikely. If I substitute my stove burner for a copier, an elevator, or a machine in a factory floor, then it will be a fairly familiar experience. It is an age-old problem of not having proper processes and tools to service customers. Many companies are still tripping over their feet just to deliver basic customer service. They cannot capture and share relevant information, even among people within the customer service department. And without relevant information, servicing a seemingly simple request takes a long time and multiple visits. Productivity is drained while customers become disillusioned, and eliminating any possibility of retaining the customer let alone selling them other products and services.

Admittedly, this problem is not an easy one to solve. Many companies have tried but few have succeeded. Those that have succeeded have developed processes and use tools that provide clarity and transparency to their employees and partners who are serving their customers. Let’s use my case to elaborate on this point. If the company that I dealt with has the right processes and tools, then the contact agent that I spoke to would have known who I am after the brief identity verification. She would have known where I live and my contact information. Using the tool provided by her company, the contact agent would have been able to capture information about my burner problem, its make and model. With the symptoms that I provided, the tool that she uses should have been to able guess the cause of the problem and the corresponding solution. It should have identified the most likely parts and their availability. With this information, the tool should have also ensured that the appointment is set up appropriately by the agent while she is talking to me. Soon afterward, the service order would then be assigned and passed on (in completeness) to the qualified technician. And it would not matter whether or not the technician is an in-house resource or one from an external partner. And on the date and time of the service, the technician would have been able to repair my burner. This is what it means to have clarity.

The key enabler here is having tools that are connected to each other like Lego™ blocks. This is the case with SAP CRM, SAP ERP, and other applications within the SAP Business Suite. Like Reshma said in her blog, “we do it for you, so you don’t have to”.

And about my stove, the technician called us about 3 weeks later and told us that he had managed to hunt down the part. He would be able to come back in a couple of days and fit our burner. Well, he showed up at 6 pm on the scheduled day and replaced the malfunctioned part in 30 minutes. So, about 4 weeks after I made the call, our burner is finally working again. However, I am not so sure that I am ready to send in another check and renew our service contract when it expires next year.

– Hansen Lieu, Director CRM Solution Marketing, SAP | hansen.lieu@sap.com

Do you have the ‘Clarity’ to succeed with your CRM strategy in this economy?

May 11, 2009

Today, we’re at an inflection point in the global business environment. We are all contending with survival through a period of unprecedented economic volatility.  Learning from previous downturns, I think it is safe to say that many forward-looking companies realize that the ‘do nothing but cut costs’ approach to managing business is not really going to help them survive for too long. 

However, determining what to do in order to survive and emerge stronger is by no means a trivial undertaking.  Businesses and consumers alike are forced to reducing spending. In addition, the Internet has driven a tectonic shift in power toward consumers, who now directly influence business models as well as the design and delivery of products and services. As a result, companies are trying very hard to find ways to protect market share today so they can emerge stronger with a base of loyal customers who champion their brand.

Whatever strategies companies embark on, there is a compelling case today for ‘Clarity’.  Clarity of insight, strategy, ownership, processes, and measurements.  Clarity to help your employees and partners execute to perfection in the most optimal way.  Clarity that can be delivered to all the right people at the right time.  Consider some examples:

  • How impactful would your marketing department be if they knew which customer segments are the most profitable to pursue based on profitability and availability of your products?
  • Wouldn’t your sales rep be ‘oh, so thankful!’ if he or she knew some facts about a customer’s ability to make prompt payments before even embarking on an opportunity?
  • How satisfied would your customers be if the invoice they receive matches the initial offer your company made to them – including costs such as taxes, shipments, etc.?
  • How much more money you could make if you knew when your customers’ service contracts were expiring and if you could automatically renew them?

I believe that SAP and our partners have the unique combination of expertise and tools to deliver this clarity – quickly and effectively.  I welcome your thoughts, and also encourage you to explore further and engage with us in this exciting journey.


Vinay Iyer, Vice President, SAP Enterprise Marketing, CRM Solutions


Old Ski Boots and New CRM Systems

May 8, 2009

I remember when I was learning how to ski I could not wait to get out of my wet and cold ski boots. Every ski day would start with the painful exercise of getting into the ill fitting boots and would end with the pleasure of coming out of them. These, of course, were the used boots that I had inherited from a distant cousin – or maybe the kid of a friend of a friend of my parents. The rational was simple; “equipment doesn’t matter, first you have to learn how to ski, if you like the sport then we will buy you better boots…”

But now I know better, equipment does matter – especially ski boots! Today, I have real ski boots which are warm, fit perfectly and are never wet. At 43 I ski better than ever, and I actually enjoy the cold, snowy, powdery days – bring it on I say!

This brings me to my point about the decision process about enterprise systems – especially about CRM systems. It is crazy to see how the same criteria that my parents used when they decided not to buy me ski boots – but still take me skiing – are used to make CRM investments.

Somewhere along the decision process people forget about the outcome that they are looking for – like getting a child excited and passionate about a sport and not horrified at the thought of it. In the same way that you might take the ill fitting ski boots with you week after week to the ski slope and have miserable days, organizations spend money on quick fixes and tactical CRM projects while never enjoying the benefits of these systems. Why? I believe the answer is that they lose sight of the intended outcome. Under pressure organizations gravitate towards the seemingly easy and low cost solutions and promises – similar to borrowing used ski boots. As always, you get what you pay for.

– Reza Soudagar, Sr. Director CRM Solution Marketing, SAP | reza.soudagar@sap.com

We do it for you, so you don’t have to

May 8, 2009

We recently wrote this article in SAP Insider discussing SAP’s value proposition (a process-based approach to CRM vs. siloed CRM) and we found our article was very well received by our constituents. Why did it resonate so well with our customers?

Perhaps because of the saying: “We do it for you, so you don’t have to”. Although a bit cliché-ish, I thought of this as I was reading an article discussing the value of SAP Business Suite 7 in the context of our competitors. I found the conclusion of this article very compelling: “SAP’s revenge will come as customers find that they are spending more time moving their business forward than struggling with integration issues, which should never be their responsibility in the first place.” SAP has already done the integration for you . And not only do we describe how to do it, but give you a roadmap if your company can’t consume it all at once.

Or perhaps it is because of something my old business school professor once said: “It should always be about delivering superior customer value, if it’s not then they you shouldn’t do it”. To quote from our article: “Delivering a process-centric approach to CRM is what differentiates SAP from its competition. SAP breaks down the traditional functional boundaries of three-letter-acronym applications and is uniquely positioned to deliver solutions that support a set of comprehensive, end-to-end processes that are driven by industry requirements and are targeted to specific lines of business. SAP believes that this approach provides the highest value to its customers, which in turn enables them to deliver superior customer value to their customers. ” Maybe our customers have determined that they want to deliver superior customer value in every interaction and now they want someone to show them how to do this most efficiently.

Or perhaps it’s because we have the most loyal customers in the industry, who know the quality of our products and have been extremely satisfied with the value we bring to their business. For them, the SAP brand speaks for itself. For the new customers we talk to, this article is a chance to experience what SAP can offer, and everyone wants the comfort of knowing they are in good, capable hands, especially in these times.

–  Reshma Mani, Director CRM Solution Marketing, SAP | reshma.mani@sap.com

Welcome to SAP CRM Voice!

May 7, 2009


Thanks for visiting our blog.  Here, you will find discussions on topics related to Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  The discussions in this forum will be primarily focused on business issues and trends.  For product and technology discussions wrt SAP CRM, please visit our community at:  https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/bpx/crm.

Who are the contributors to this blog?

Business professionals who have experience in the CRM domain (Sales, Marketing and Service.)  SAP employees as well as our partners and customers.  In general, people who have something to say that matters to CRM!

We hope you find the discussions and perspectives expressed here useful and thought-provoking.  And we certainly welcome your feedback and contributions.

Vinay Iyer (on behalf of the SAP CRM team)

Vice President, SAP CRM Enterpise Marketing